Barista Magazine

OCT-NOV 2017

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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Page 24 of 115

25 ism," she says. "All these cultures, traditions, and complicated little nuances speak to that place in a way that makes perfect sense to me." Meister adds that she's also drawn to the melting-pot aspect of the city and its coffee shops, bringing together a disparate population into a communal setting. "There is something about coffee shops there that is just the absolute greatest equalizer," she says. "Coffee shops and the subway both put everybody on equal footing, like, 'We're all in this together.' It's amazing to me how they can be just the right mix of anonymous but also community-building, like a little pillow fort that unites us all for exactly the amount of time we share the space, and then releases us into our lives and into the chaos once we step outside the boundaries." New York City Coffee: A Caffeinated History is now available from Arcadia Publishing at major booksellers including Amazon and Powells Books. —Chris Ryan FIVE YEARS IN, CHICAGO'S GRASSROOTS COFFEE NETWORK IS A SUCCESS STORY ONE OF THE MOST ATTRACTIVE THINGS about coffee is how inextricably it's linked to com- munity. From Ethiopian coffee ceremonies, to pro- ducer cooperatives, to neighborhood shops where the baristas seem to know just about everyone, coffee and kinship go hand-in-hand. Accordingly, it's no surprise that more and more cities are intentionally building barista communities that gather regularly for competitions, presentations, social engagements, and educational workshops. One of these is New Gotham Coffee, a vibrant volunteer-run network based in Chicago. Over its fi ve-year history, New Gotham has developed and produced innumerable activities designed specifi cally for coffee professionals, from monthly latte art throwdowns, forums with guest experts, and a Q-grader training course, to a tasting competition at CoffeeCon, assisting with Chicago's Bloom gathering, offering tech classes, and much more. New Gotham has a board of nine directors and elections are held every two years. Major decisions, such as nomination and selection of new board members, are made by the board. However, if consensus isn't reached, the decision is passed along to the New Gotham membership for a vote. Yearly dues of $30 include benefi ts ranging from Tshirts to access to special work- shops. Membership fees are rolled back into the organization to be used for future events. New Gotham's third president, Eric Perez, speaks frankly about the challenges of getting things done in a volunteer-run organization of busy professionals. "We learned a while back that you can't bite off more than you can chew," says Eric. "We wanted to do these big fl ashy nationally recognized events, but follow-through was really tough. Eventually we realized that we had to focus our energies, and [we] decided to make sure we were looking at the Chicago coffee community fi rst. Spending our time and energy on things that were specifi cally valuable to [Chicago's coffee community] allowed us to plan things that were achievable and actually make them happen. Doing that doesn't necessarily get us the most acclaim, but it is the most helpful to our community, which is the point of what we are trying to do." Another potential challenge to building and serving a localized coffee community is that members are often business competitors with one another. New Gotham's board works hard to avoid favoritism, and they make it clear that while spon- sorship is hugely appreciated, it doesn't secure any sort of permanent partnership or bias in the future. Eric says it's critical that members feel the playing fi eld is even. That's why New Gotham promotes and supports all coffee-related activities in Chicago on its social media. Emails and direct messages on Instagram (@newgothamcoffee), which is their favorite and most effective promo- tional tool, are always welcome. Looking to create a similar organization in your town, or just get your feet wet throwing a one-off event? Eric has this advice for you: "Ask for help." He remembers all too well when New Gotham was doing things the hard way with too narrow a focus. Life, or rather, the ability to host successful events, got a lot easier once they real- ized that asking for help and broad participation always paid off. For more information, visit —Joshua Dusk-Peebles PHOTOS BY ERIC PEREZ ©2017 Pacific Foods of Oregon, Inc. All rights reserved. "The way Pacific Foods implements barista feedback is unparalleled in the coffee industry and shows in their Pacific Barista Series TM . No other non-dairy foams with such amazing texture, is so great for latte art, and has such wonderful flavor." Anna Gutierrez – National Sales Consultant, Barista 22 is Always ®

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